Hard Questions by Karen Zipdrive
And, don't read this if you think people should not swear when they're angry. Ms. Z has a way with words. (I'm even too much of a wimp to post her comments as she wrote them on this blog. I've cut away a few times. Please click the links to catch the points where I wimped out, 'cause I left out important points.)
I'm quoting again. Karen asks some hard questions and expresses her feelings about some of what has happened, and she doesn't sugar-coat things. Don't read this if you prefer not to wonder why it took so long for rescue efforts to begin or if you don't want to hear it in an angry voice.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
The U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients.WHY?
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Louisiana Is a RED State...and other rants--note- Too many bleeps here, and I didn't even remove all the FCC's forbidden words. (Yes, I realize this is not a radio show.) Visit Ms.Z's blog for for a mix of humor and anger as she talks about politics in the USA.Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Well, Bush has proven once and for all, even to the red states, that he's nothing more than a tool of big business and big money and couldn't care less about ... (more)
True Christians, you know, the ones who equate Christ with peace and think all people are his children? Yeah, them. They should sue Bush and his band of phony Jesus freaks for defamation of character and ruining their religion's image by co-opting and using the name of Jesus as a facade for being hate-filled, racist, xenophobic, war mongering, money worshiping, Saudi loving, bought-off, dirty fucking liars.Now when someone tells me they are Christian and don't immediately add, 'but I can't stand Bush,' I just think they are ... (more)
--Having volunteered lately with Hurricane Katrina evacuees who are primarily African American, keeping track of their kids is a lot easier when their names are not Azzelle, La Fawnda, Damore, Dionysseus, Shayiqua, Mohiquah, Tonika, Antonellique, Shakamalik and those damn 20 versions of the way they spell Shawniqua.Holy Christ, at one point I was tasked with signing little kids into the recreation area, and when a 6-year-old is trying to write out his 30-letter first name and cot number in green Crayola, I get antsy as hell after the first five or 10 minutes.Finally, I just grabbed the Crayola from the three dozen Shawniquas and signed them in with, "SHQA, Cot 912."
--Louisiana is a red state, and black voters were starting to lean toward the right. Ha! Not anymore. (more)
--I shared a smoke break outside with one of the few white couples I'd met at the shelter. The man said- in his N'awlins drawl- that even though he was a union man, he had voted for Bush.Then he took a long puff off his cigarette, exhaled and said, "But I tell you what, that old Bush needs to get his ass whupped for lettin' us standing up there on our roof two days."We was on the roof of a $200,000 house that costs about 12 dollahs now, and where was he?"Then his wife said, "I never did like him and I never voted for him, and now (pointing at her husband) he knows that he was hoodwinked!"
--Several of the evacuees seemed freaked out to discover that many of the 90% white volunteers in San Antonio said they thought Bush was a crooked, lying, racist, too. They were expecting all those Neo-Con Texas Jesus freaks to be there volunteering. Ha! As if! Texas Bush Christians do not work 9 to 5 jobs; they play golf and bark orders at their minions from their homes or cell phones. Their wives attend Al-Anon meetings in between flower arrangement and cooking classes.They do not wade between acres of green canvas cots and pass out hair pomades, picks and clean jockey shorts to Negroes- that's something their husbands might send their mid-management level staff to do for one afternoon, but they'd better be wearing T-shirts bearing their company logos so the group photo looks good in their monthly newsletter.
--The parking lot for volunteers was not filled with Range Rovers, Benzes, Escalades and shiny new Ford F-350 pickups with V8 engines, but it was filled with 10-year-old Hondas and Corollas, a couple of Prius's, and several well-worn Escorts, Cavaliers, Neons and other middle to lower middle class rides.Sure, there were a few nice SUV's and minivans parked there, because nurses and doctors volunteered by the dozens. But they weren't part of Bush's base, that's for goddamn sure.
--Everyone has seen Mayor Naglin and Governor Blanco speak out with great passion and forthright candor. Fuck P.C. platitudes! They cussed and they explained in plain language where and how the feds fucked up, got caught, then lied about it.Who you gonna believe, them or the team who brought you stratospheric gas prices, faux WMD's, war with Iraq, deficits, global warming ignorance, stem cell is baby killing, the jury's still out on evolution, weakened National Guard response and the world's worst bureaucratic clusterfuck, the Department of Homeland Security?
--Hello, Media? Time to start (more) And Fox News? There IS NO good news to put a Bush-sunny spin on. The streets along the Gulf Coast are fetid, steaming, filthy streams of diseased, stinking SLIME.Hundreds of thousands of people who earned less than $8,000 a year are dead, dying, sick or just shit out of luck. Report THAT.-Hello, Democrats?The time to stop being (more)
--Some people tell me to calm down when I start getting political, even Democrats.I tell them, (more)- skip the diplomacy and pleas for passive restraint. (more)
FEMA: Led by Bush's Good Buddy ...
Just in case you aren't aware that Bush chose his woefully inexperienced college pal Michael Brown to head FEMA, maybe you also need to know that Brown took the job after being fired for ineptitude and "alleged" improprieties while managing a horse breeding farm.
Yes, you read that right.
Brown couldn't oversee horses knocking up other horses. It was just too hard to master.
So get a load of this. (more) .... aw, just visit Karen yourself, and read her daily rants. :)
Musical Tributes to New Orleans ... and "The Death of the Common Good"
Yesterday and today, I turned on the radio and heard musical tributes to New Orleans. One of the songs I heard yesterday was "Louisiana 1927" by Randy Newman."Louisiana 1927" was quoted in an article I received in email a couple of days ago (below, by Chris Floyd). The comment at the end (by Darla Sparks in Yukon, Oklahoma) was with the article. There are links to both authors if you'd like to contact them.
September 1, 2005
The Perfect Storm - New Orleans and the Death of the Common Good
By CHRIS FLOYD
"The river rose all day, The river rose all night.
Some people got lost in the flood, Some people got away all right.
The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemine:
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline.
Louisiana, Louisiana,They're trying to wash us away, They're trying to wash us away."
-- Randy Newman, Louisiana 1927
The destruction of New Orleans represents a confluence of many of the most pernicious trends in American politics and culture: poverty, racism, militarism, elitist greed, environmental abuse, public corruption and the decay of democracy at every level.
Much of this is embodied in the odd phrasing that even the most circumspect mainstream media sources have been using to describe the hardest-hit victims of the storm and its devastating aftermath: "those who chose to stay behind." Instantly, the situation has been framed with language to flatter the prejudices of the comfortable and deny the reality of the most vulnerable.
It is obvious that the vast majority of those who failed to evacuate are poor: they had nowhere else to go, no way to get there, no means to sustain themselves and their families on strange ground.
While there were certainly people who stayed behind by choice, most stayed behind because they had no choice. They were trapped by their poverty and many have paid the price with their lives.Yet across the media spectrum, the faint hint of disapproval drips from the affluent observers, the clear implication that the victims were just too lazy and shiftless to get out of harm's way.
There is simply no understanding not even an attempt at understanding the destitution, the isolation, the immobility of the poor and the sick and the broken among us.This is from the "respectable" media; the great right-wing echo chamber was even less restrained, of course, leaping straight into giddy convulsions of racism at the first reports of looting in the devastated city.
In the pinched-gonad squeals of Rush Limbaugh and his fellow hatemongers, the hard-right media immediately conjured up images of wild-eyed darkies rampaging through the streets in an orgy of violence and thievery.
Not that the mainstreamers ignored the racist angle. There was the already infamous juxtaposition of captions for wire service photos, where depictions of essentially the same scene desperate people wading through flood waters, clutching plastic bags full of groceries were given markedly different spins.
In one picture, a white couple are described as struggling along after finding bread and soda at a grocery store. But beneath an almost identical photo of a young black man with a bag of groceries, we are told that a "looter" wades through the streets after robbing a grocery store. In the photo I saw, this evil miscreant also had a gasp! pack of diapers under his arm.
Almost all of the early "looting" was like this: desperate people of all colors stranded by the floodwaters broke into abandoned stores and carried off food, clean water, medicine, clothes. Perhaps they should have left a check on the counter, but then again what exactly was going to happen to all those perishables and consumer goods, sitting around in fetid, diseased water for weeks on end? (The mayor now says it could be up to 16 weeks before people can return to their homes and businesses.) Obviously, most if not all of it would have been thrown away or written off in any case.
Later, of course, there was more organized looting by criminal gangs, the type of lawless element of every hue, in every society whose chief victims are, of course, the poor and vulnerable. These criminal operations were quickly conflated with the earlier pilferage to paint a single seamless picture of the American media's favorite horror story: Black Folk Gone Wild.But here again another question was left unasked: Where were the resources the money, manpower, materiel, transport that could have removed all those forced to stay behind, and given them someplace safe and sustaining to take shelter?
Where, indeed, were the resources that could have bolstered the city's defenses and shored up its levees? Where were the National Guard troops that could have secured the streets and directed survivors to food and aid? Where were the public resources the physical manifestation of the citizenry's commitment to the common good that could have greatly mitigated the brutal effects of this natural disaster?
"President Coolidge came down here in a railroad train,
With a little fat man with a notebook in his hand.
The president say, "Little fat man, isn't it a shame
What the river has done to this poor cracker's land?"
Well, we all know what happened to those vital resources. They had been cut back, stripped down, gutted, pilfered looted to pay for a war of aggression, to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest, safest, most protected Americans, to gorge the coffers of a small number of private and corporate fortunes, while letting the public sector the common good wither and die on the vine.
These were all specific actions of the Bush Administration including the devastating budget cuts on projects specifically designed to bolster New Orleans' defenses against a catastrophic hurricane. Bush even cut money for strengthening the very levees that broke and delivered the deathblow to the city. All this, in the face of specific warnings of what would happen if these measures were neglected: the city would go down "under 20 feet of water," one expert predicted just a few weeks ago.
But Bush said there was no money for this kind of folderol anymore. The federal budget had been busted by his tax cuts and his war. And this was a deliberate policy: as Bush's mentor Grover Norquist famously put it, the whole Bushist ethos was to starve the federal government of funds, shrinking it down so "we can drown it in the bathtub."
As it turned out, the bathtub wasn't quite big enough -- so they drowned it in the streets of New Orleans instead.But as culpable, criminal and loathsome as the Bush Administration is, it is only the apotheosis of an overarching trend in American society that has been gathering force for decades: the destruction of the idea of a common good, a public sector whose benefits and responsibilities are shared by all, and directed by the consent of the governed.
For more than 30 years, the corporate Right has waged a relentless and highly focused campaign against the common good, seeking to atomize individuals into isolated "consumer units" whose political energies kept deliberately underinformed by the ubiquitous corporate media can be diverted into emotionalized "hot button" issues (gay marriage, school prayer, intelligent design, flag burning, welfare queens, drugs, porn, abortion, teen sex, commie subversion, terrorist threats, etc., etc.) that never threaten Big Money's bottom line.
Again deliberately, with smear, spin and sham, they have sought and succeeded in poisoning the well of the democratic process, turning it into a tabloid melee where only "character counts" while the rapacious policies of Big Money's bought-and-sold candidates are completely ignored.
As Big Money solidified its ascendancy over government, pouring billions over and under the table into campaign coffers, politicians could ignore larger and larger swathes of the people. If you can't hook yourself up to a well-funded, coffer-filling interest group, if you can't hire a big-time Beltway player to lobby your cause and get you "a seat at the table," then your voice goes unheard, your concerns are shunted aside. (Apart from a few cynical gestures around election-time, of course.)
The poor, the sick, the weak, the vulnerable have become invisible in the media, in the corporate boardroom, "at the table" of the power players in national, state and local governments. The increasingly marginalized and unstable middle class is also fading from the consciousness of the rulers, whose servicing of the elite goes more brazen and frantic all the time.
When unbridled commercial development of delicately balanced environments like the Mississippi Delta is bruited "at the table," whose voice is heard? Not the poor, who, as we have seen this week, will overwhelmingly bear the brunt of the overstressed environment. And not the middle class, who might opt for the security of safer, saner development policies to protect their hard-won homes and businesses. No, the only voice that matters is that of the developers themselves, and the elite investors who stand behind them.
"Louisiana, Louisiana,They're trying to wash us away"
The destruction of New Orleans was a work of nature but a nature that has been worked upon by human hands and human policies. As global climate change continues its deadly symbiosis with unbridled commercial development for elite profit, we will see more such destruction, far more, on an even more devastating scale.
As the harsh, aggressive militarism and brutal corporate ethos that Bush has injected into the mainstream of American society continues to spread its poison, we will see fewer and fewer resources available to nurture the common good.
As the political process becomes more and more corrupt, ever more a creation of elite puppetmasters and their craven bagmen, we will see the poor and the weak and even the middle class driven further and further into the low ground of society, where every passing storm economic, political, natural will threaten their homes, their livelihoods, their very existence.
"Louisiana, Louisiana,They're trying to wash us away
They're trying to wash us awayThey're trying to wash us awayThey're trying to wash us away"
Chris Floyd is a columnist for The Moscow Times and regular contributor to CounterPunch. A new, upgraded version of his blog, "Empire Burlesque," can be found at http://www.chris-floyd.com/.
Darla's comments were attached to Chris Floyd's post (printed here with her permission) -
Those of you whose lives are comfortable, secure and enjoyable must understand as the last good German did in Europe during the 40s....this cancerous growth within our country and our government will soon overtake you, too.
When observing the human suffering of this past week and feeling secure and safe in your current world, you surely can grasp the idea that if your peers do not assume some responsibility for the lessers of our society and assume much responsibility for the corrupted stink of our country's governing elitists, you will eventually join those less fortunate.
Your comforts and security created by your labors and factors of birth that have produced savings, upper bracket taxable incomes,assets and luxuries will be eroded by this very small, obscenely wealthy, utterly ruthless class of rulers. Eventually you will also be washed away.
What will you do then if you don't assume some responsibilities, duties and moral obligations to take action now?
Whatever you think of Michael Moore ... he said what a lot of people have been thinking
Friday, September 2nd, 2005
Vacation is Over...
an open letter
from Michael Moore to George W. Bush
Friday, September 2nd, 2005
Dear Mr. Bush:
Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.
Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?
Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans.
That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!
I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?
And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!
On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.
There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.
No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!
You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.
P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.